• Ask a Naturalist: Identifying Fall Trees

    October 12, 2021  |  by Cornelia Barr
    fall trees at Gateway, Winston Salem, North Carolina

    These native tree species all grow at the Gateway Nature Preserve, many of them along the Forest Discovery Trail above Salem Creek Greenway. In combination with a tree guide this list can to help identify trees by leaf shapes, bark, and fall color. Seek and iNaturalist are good apps to use; there are also many good tree identification books, just choose one that you find easy to use.

    Trees in their list are organized by their scientific nomenclature, which groups similar species together (maples, oaks, etc.) Have fun!

    Deciduous trees:

    Boxelder (Acer negundo), yellow

    Red maple (Acer rubra), orange to red

    Silver maple (Acer saccharinium), yellow to red

    Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), yellow to scarlet

    Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), yellow-orange

    Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata), yellow

    Redbud (Cercis canadensis), yellow

    Beech (Fagus grandifolia) , yellow changing to tan (beech leaves often stay on the tree all winter)

    White Ash (Fraxinius americana), bronze purple

    Walnut (Juglans nigra), yellowish green

    Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), red to purple

    Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), yellow

    Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum), scarlet red

    Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), yellow to orange to brown

    Black cherry Prunus serotina), yellow

    White Oak (Quercus alba), reddish brown

    Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), red

    Northern red oak (Quercus rubra), russet red

    Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), yellow to red

    Evergreens : Evergreens do lose their needles or leaves, but not all at once, like deciduous trees do. These evergreens all stay green over the winter:

    Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) green

    Virginia pine (Pinus Virginiana) green

    Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) green

    Non-native plants with leaves, most of them invasive, also stay green during the winter. All of these are present in the Gateway Nature Preserve, unfortunately!

    Privets (Ligustrum spp.)

    Japanese holly (Ilex crenata)

    Nandina (Nandina domestica)

    English Ivy (Hedera helix)